Palo Conteh treason verdict  – I salute the Jury – Op ed

Cornelius Deveaux: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 July 2020:

Certainly, right thinking Sierra Leoneans – and by extension the wider citizenry, will be appalled by a post on the official Facebook page of the SLPP government Ministry of Information and Communications, intending to purport that Sierra Leone’s Judiciary is going through a born-again styled reincarnation under the Julius Maada Bio SLPP government. (Photo above – Attorney General Schwartz).

The article, with the headline: ‘Judicial Independence On Display Under President Bio’, exposes, on the one hand, a failed and cynical attempt by the ruling SLPP to lure a jury to allow themselves to be used in the same way as the government continues to use the judiciary to intimidate and victimize opposition members and, on the other hand, it exposes a desperation for revenge by the ruling SLPP and also pinpoints the government’s ultimate aim to incarcerate opposition members on trumped-up political charges so as to slam a prohibition on their active participation in politics ahead of the 2022 and 2023 elections.

In the exercise of free speech and unfettered opinions, some judicial review have been critical of the judiciary in the past. Highlights from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) pinpoints the perversion of justice by the judiciary as one of the many reasons for the decade long RUF war.

Following late President Alhaji Ahmed Tejan Kabbah’s pronouncement in 2002 that ‘the war is over’, the successive government of President Ernest Bai Koroma followed up on reforms in the judiciary.

Notwithstanding the shortfalls that may have been evident in these efforts and without intent to question the opinion of compatriots with regards these efforts, the judiciary demonstrated impartiality and respect for constitutional provisions by first of all listing for hearing, and within the constitutional time-frame the petition case filed by Julius Maada Bio against the election of Ernest Bai Koroma as President of Sierra Leone in the 2012 presidential election. Also, the judiciary adjudicated an intra SLPP party dispute and was applauded by the opposing factions.

There has never been a time in the history of Sierra Leone that the Judiciary of Sierra Leone is ‘openly playing ball with the Executive and failing to dispense justice impartially than now’.

The petition cases against the election of Julius Maada Bio as President of Sierra Leone in the 2018 presidential election is yet to be listed for hearing way outside the constitutional time-frame. Also, in blatant contravention of constitutional provisions, the judiciary was again used by the SLPP government to unconstitutionally remove ten elected APC MPs from Parliament.

The judiciary has also been woefully negligent in adjudicating matters bordering on the interpretation of the Constitution. In the Paolo Conteh matter we see a judiciary desperate to do the government’s bidding.

“Since the ascendancy of President Julius Maada Bio to the throne in April 2018”, it is no secret that the judiciary, in recent times, has come under the sledgehammer of critics and advocates, including the Sierra Leone Bar Association, more than ever before for not displaying independence but rather always feeding from the Executive.

Consequently, one need not comment on statements made by judges who were remote controlled to preside over commissions of inquiry that will not stand the test of times.

And by coincidence or design, reference to the Francis Minah debacle is most disingenuous and speaks of a government playing with the sensitivities of regional and tribal sentiments and not one working to heal wounds of the past and promote national cohesion.

And, it is cheap politics, very cheap politics, for the writer to say “Alfred Palo Conteh and others should thank their lucky stars that we have a God-fearing president who is not vindictive and believes in the rule of law”, when, even at the onset there was no evidence of treason and that the state prosecution, led by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, disgracefully failed to prove a case of treason beyond all reasonable doubt.

And why would the government’s partner in crime, the Sierra Leone Police, detain the Under Sheriff?

It is the jury, and neither the government nor the judiciary,  that was upright in their ways.  I salute those true sons and daughters of Sierra Leone.

About the author

Cornelius Oguntola Melvin Deveaux is the former Deputy Minister of Information and Communications in the  previous government of Sierra Leone  , and ; National Publicity Secretary – APC


  1. Salone is ‘blessed’ with the dual and blatant banal political divide which will never go away and until, we hope, it goes away, the three main branches of government will always be bedevilled with political intrigues and counter-intrigues to the detriment of the poor masses, these judicial processes aren’t cheap financially and otherwise!

  2. I am personally calling on Cornelius Deveaux to come out of hiding and surrender himself to the police to face justice for the alleged crime he committed in the street of Freetown after the 2018 parliamentary election petition result was announced by the court. Since our justice system under the New Direction government has once again proved that they are now independent of “Order from Above”, he should be man enough to come out and face our credible jurors, and I hope and pray that this time around he will respect the decision even if it’s not in his favor instead of inciting violence in the streets. Finally if anyone knows the whereabouts of Cornelius Deveaux, there is still a Le 5 million bounty over his head which will come handy during this Coronavirus economic crisis.

  3. Cornelius an GCE A level graduate from Albert Academy who tasted the sweetness of political office after Christiana Thorpe masterminded/engineered the ascendance of his corrupt APC party to the executive office in 2007. And he cannot defend why Sierra Leone was the third hungriest country in the world when they were in power; their leadership was just busy fatting their pockets and tightning their grip on power forever is now blackmailing/discrediting the very justice system they used to legitimise their diabolic acts/deeds like the kicking away of an elected vice president who was in his second term in office after he completed his first term of 5 years.

    He cannot even compare the abysmal performance of the abject failure/conspiracy with criminals of the Ade Macualey led APC era as chief anti-corruption commissioner who was/is his schoolmate/alumni of the Albert Academy to the vibrant/dynamic current chief commissioner who has returned over Le24 Billion to the nation’s consolidated fund of money stolen/siphoned by criminals of the previous APC regime that were looted and carted away because the lethargic/good-for-nothing Ade Macauley as chief anti corruption commissioner failed to do his work to trace and indict these criminals.

    Lastly Mr CORNELEOUS you should realised the abject poverty/miseries/destitutions your corrupt APC party always inflict on the masses of mama Salone whenever your party rule us; and you should apologise for your poor leadership you inflicted on them. And finally you should be bold enough to defend yourself for all to see/hear when you falsely accused the justice system in mama Salone when it delivers its judgements of accredited contestants of the 2018 general election when your APC flouted the electoral rules/laws.

  4. Mark Elliot Zuckerberg and Facebook, are coming increasingly under pressure to monitor some of the hateful content being posted in his platform. For while his company has in most cases been a force for good, I wonder how much attention has been paid to this megalomaniacs that kept using Facebook platforms to divide us Sierra Leoneans. There should be red flags saying this content is evil. This half witted individuals that kept posting content for political point scoring should remember our country has moved on from those ugly days where your only source of news is from SLBS.

    We are not there anymore and we will never go back to those bad old days leading to the war. They can rant all about which party they support like drunk football hooligans, but the vast majority of Sierra Leoneans will listen and say thank goodness there are other alternative sources of news. These people that are wedded in tribal division, or North, South issues, and don’t have no knowledge of the meaning of working together for the good of all, should be discarded in the dustbin of History.

    Thank you very much, we don’t need your contribution until you come out of your tribal division drunken rage. The train for future development of our country has left since the end of that brutal civil war, for which some of us lost so many family members and properties in the hands of drugged up RUF fighters. Sure enough if our judiciary was independent from the word go, that civil war would never have taken place. I think its about time facebook monitors the contents of inciting tribal conflicts in our country.

  5. APC politicians are very good at lying. The judiciary under your administration did the worst things in this country. For example the sacking of the sitting vice president unconstitutionally, pronouncement of election results by Christiana Thorpe whilst counting was on-going in some tally centres, the removal of two SLPP MPs from Kenema and kailahun and replaced them with APC candidates, sacking of civil servants with supposedly secured jobs, killing of innocent people by your leader – example the late S O Williams, former chief of defence staff, so what do you want to tell us. We are not fools ok.

  6. The writer wants Sierra Leoneans to tow the line with him by believing that the ruling government is not powerful enough to have influenced the judiciary but we are not going along in his directions. What has happened is the first in the history of this Country, for a treason trial to be won by a defense team. We are happy that a precedent has been set for others to follow.

  7. Yeah. The pictures are a perfect description of what is going on. See how confident and serious Mr Cornelius Deveaux looks when making the point there. COOL. The whole truth has been dissected piece by piece by one of our country’s champions under the turbo boost political leadership of former President Ernest Bai Koroma. Bottom line, the judiciary tried to make the Bio SLPP look pretty good after that humiliating, catastrophic, unwise, foolish and disastrous state prosecution treason investigation blunder, by finding the gallant Rtd Major Paolo Conteh guilty of two counts of unlawful possession of two guns.

    I will be very silly or foolish to give credit to the Bio SLPP for a job well done by a jury not appointed by the APC. The jury did what they thought was right without pressure from the executive or anyone. God bless the most effective Commander in Chief of the Sierra Leone Armed Forces ever, former President Ernest Bai Koroma, the first of its kind jury ever in our judiciary history and of course the indomitable Mr Cornelius Deveaux.

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